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McCain: Meet Harry Sargeant

The Washington Post profiles a McCain bundler, and the paper seems to imply he might have reimbursed donors. The bundler is Harry Sargeant, a defense contractor. "Some of the most prolific givers in Sargeant's network live in modest homes in Southern California's Inland Empire. Most had never given a political contribution before being contacted by Sargeant or his associates. Most said they have never voiced much interest in politics. And in several instances, they had never registered to vote. And yet, records show, some families have ponied up as much as $18,400 for various candidates between December and March.

Both Sargeant and the donors were vague when asked to explain how Sargeant persuaded  them to give away so much money. 'I have a lot of Arab business partners. I do a lot of business in the Middle East. I've got a lot of friends,' Sargeant said in a telephone interview yesterday. 'I ask my friends to support candidates that I think are worthy of supporting. They usually come through for me.' Sargeant's business relationships, and the work they perform together, occur away from the public eye. His firm, International Oil Trading Co. (IOTC), holds several lucrative contracts with the Defense Department to carry fuel to the U.S. military in Iraq."

Maureen Dowd skewers McCain in her New York Times column, arguing that his recent actions are due to Obama envy. "McCain could dismiss W. as a lightweight, but he knows Obama's smart. Obama wrote his own books, while McCain's were written by Salter. McCain knows he's the affirmative action scion of admirals who might not have gotten through Annapolis without being a legacy. Obama didn't even tell Harvard Law School that he was black on his application. McCain upbraids Obama for being a poppet, while he's becoming a puppet. His mouth is moving but the words coming out belong to his new hard-boiled strategist, Steve Schmidt, a Rove protégé, nicknamed 'The Bullet' for his bald pate. Schmidt has turned Mr. Straight Talk into Mr. Desperate Straits. It's not a good trade."

It's been a while since manager Rick Davis' business past has created a headline for McCain. Today's Cleveland Plain Dealer welcomes McCain to Ohio with a story about Davis' role with DHL. "When Republican presidential candidate John McCain meets Thursday with citizens and officials in Wilmington, Ohio, he won't need a playbook to understand why they're worried about deep job losses at the local freight airport. Little known to those citizens, McCain and his campaign manager, Rick Davis, played roles in the fate of DHL Express and its Ohio air park as far back as 2003. Back then, however, their actions that helped DHL and its German owner, Deutsche Post World Net, acquire the Wilmington operations resulted in expansion, not retraction."

"In a private meeting Thursday, Wilmington residents will ask McCain for help in stopping DHL's proposal to quit using the airport as a hub, which could cost more than 8,000 jobs. DHL says that it wants to stay in the freight business but that it can stem financial losses if it can put its packages aboard the planes of a rival -- United Parcel Service -- before delivering them in DHL trucks. UPS flies out of Louisville, Ky., so the proposed change would render the Wilmington airport unnecessary."

"None of that was anticipated in 2003, when McCain and Davis, who was a Washington lobbyist before managing the presidential campaign, first got involved. Several Wilmington civic leaders said that what happened in 2003 created an economic gain for their community, lasting several years. But because that gain, and now the prospective loss, came from the decisions of a foreign-owned corporation, look for some Democrats and labor to seek to tie Wilmington's current troubles to McCain." 

McCain goes to 11? The campaign has not only matched Obama's $5 million Olympic TV ad buy, he's upped the ante to $6 million.

The Wall Street Journal wonders if Cindy McCain will have to sell her share in her family's beer fortune if her husband wins the presidency because of so many potential conflicts of interest involving government regulation of the industry.